When selecting a doctor, many people perform some basic research. They may go online to see how their doctor is rated, they may ask friends who they would recommend, or they may simply see a doctor referred to them by their health care provider or one who takes their insurance. However, what many don’t realize, is that doctors practicing in California (or any state for that matter), may have lost their license or been disciplined in another state.
According to a recent expose by USA Today, doctors facing serious charges of professional negligence in one state may simply surrender their license in one state rather than face a hearing and the potential for serious charges and consequences. A surrender often places no restrictions on moving and practicing in a different state. While the subsequent state may conduct a background search, this practice isn’t universal. Further, the public is not privy to the identity of doctors who “voluntarily surrender” their licenses. As such, a patient who is treated by a doctor with a spotty record, may unwittingly put themselves in harm’s way. In fact, the study showed that in roughly 250 instances of license surrender, many of the doctors were able to practice in other states with simply an address change.
While patient advocates are working to correct the shoddy reporting and disciplining of “bad” doctors, there are a couple of steps you can take to investigate your doctor. These include checking the California medical board website. While the information may not always be complete, it is a good first step. Next, check the medical board websites of any other state where you know your doctor may have practiced. Finally, a search of the Federation of State Medical Boards may provide information if your doctor has been disciplined by a medical board.
In the meantime, if you believe you may have been harmed by negligent medical care, please contact the dedicated San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.